The creation of beauty emerges from a place of love. Thousands of years ago, humans realized they had a better chance of survival by bonding. In the growth of community lay survival, and everything else that came after was born from unity and love for togetherness. Community is the union of ideas, love, culture, and people, and what makes us functional creatures. In Nigeria, the earliest communities dating back to 1500 BCE. The Nok culture showcased their lives and understanding of the world in sculptures. We have a rich and deep history of communal relation in Nigeria, and from these communities, our cultures came to
Why does each tribe in Nigeria have distinctive wedding and burial rites? Culture answers the question. All our beliefs, myths, practices, art forms, and ways of living make up what we know as our culture. The influence of culture on the way we live, think, and even worship is significant.
In modern Nigeria, our cultures are taking on a new form due to the influence of the world. We’ve heard cries of alarm from the older generation and traditional leaders about the loss of our identities. However, culture never remains stagnant as it continues to evolve.
Community Preceding Culture
Culture is born from the community and a willingness to unite. History shows the progression of our cultures over millennia. If you observe a group of people, you will discover practices that bind their communal living. These practices and methods of interaction are part of their cultures. The smallest unit of a community is family—extending into close kinship tied not just by blood, but by geography. Each family observes rites distinct to them, such as domestic duties birthed due to their communal nature. In simpler terms, the community comes first, then culture comes second.
The last century has seen a rapid change in culture in our nation. Harmful traditional customs and rites that alienated or brought despair to select individuals no longer have a place in today’s Nigeria. In a quest to preserve communal and religious integrity, malicious rites were deemed normal. The killing of twins made no logical sense. But people carried it out to avoid misfortune and the wrath of the gods. It took intention and even subjugation to discard such malicious practices. These malicious customs were clearly born out of a desire to preserve the community.
Communal Influence on Culture
A community is found wherever people are present. Today, communities exist in religion, schools, social media, and workplaces. If a goal or reason for the gathering of people exists, a community is born, and culture springs to life from the bosom of the community. Taking a look at religion, we see the spread of religious groups in different parts of the country. Nigerians bond with people who share their theological tenets.
In the major religions we have today, there are sects that form sub-communities. Christianity in Nigeria has Catholicism and Protestant denominations such as Methodism and Baptism. Moreover, Islam in Nigeria also has Sunni and Shia sects. The older traditional religious groups are currently a minority in Nigeria. Nonetheless, it’s common to see strong customs born out of these religious communities.
We also have communal relations in academic institutions. There are communities among people studying similar courses and residents of the same hostels. As the years pass, these customs take different forms but share an identity of kinship. Such an example is the chant of Obafemi Awolowo University’s anthem during its alumnae weddings—a rite you could call crude but cute.
Social media has influenced the modern culture of the world. Every day, trends that ride the wave of present-day living are born on social platforms.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen the impact of social media on contemporary lifestyles. Some examples are the rise in the captures of self-portraits (selfies) and the quick relay of information. In workspaces, people also bond over career paths and similar goals. It’s safe to say community resides everywhere.
Modern Cultural Practices and Communal Relation in Nigeria
There’s a difference in mindset between generations. Although similar lines of thought tend to exist, the grander cultural shift is distinct. Over the years, new cultural customs have formed our modernity. With modernity comes the evolution of culture, such as the push of feminism to bring about equality amongst men and women. In Nigeria and the rest of the world, there’s more awareness about pushing for women’s rights. We also see the rise in consciousness about the rights of minorities, such as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities.
It’s no surprise that younger generations are more liberal in comparison to the conservatism of older generations. An example is the rising awareness among African Gen-Z parents not to hit their children in the name of discipline. Moreover, a noticeable shift in workplace culture exists due to the younger generation prioritizing their mental health and well-being over their careers. These modern customs are born from interactions with the rest of the world.
How Communities Wade Off Loneliness
In communities, we find a spirit of togetherness that makes us whole. Our penchant for extravagant parties and festivities can be traced to older times. People loved spending time together—they came up with celebrations as an excuse to remain united. The presence of age and gender groups adds evidence to this claim.
Those who came before us pondered the problem of loneliness. Has modernity done its part to isolate us from the world? Communities weren’t created only to ensure our survival, but to make life worth living. The intruding yet caring knock on your door by a neighbor served as a reminder that your people existed. We must rediscover the importance of communities with the rise in isolation today. Our identities and culture lie in our collective union. We can only fight isolation with the community.